Sunday, December 12, 2010

January 29, 2010 – Soap Making

January 29th, 2010 – Soap Making
Most of us have some kind of fantasy about an object that looks more like a fetiche. So, mine was about soap making.
The very first time, if my mind doesn’t betray me, I may have not even been at school. But as the memory is so vivid, perhaps, I was older. But surely younger than 11 when I followed my father to the coffee field. Because the land was divided by three brothers, our houses were lined up, while the coffee field was on the back of the property. Being so, we had to pass by several homes in order to reach the plantation. That day, feeling bored, I took out a nice piece of wood my father used as marking stick. Of course, I was not that considerate about my father’s work, but rather wanted to play. My memory lapses here, but after some time, I saw my father’s stick inside a big pot used to stir grease and sodium hydroxide. In a feeling of guilt, I took the stick out and threw it away. Up today, I wonder if my taking away that mark messed up my father’s work.
I was already older enough to hang out at my friend’s house in the town. Antonia Zenaide was an adopted child who did so house chores for her adoptive parent. She rubbed a dark piece of homemade soap onto the clothes. It smelled so particular, stronger than today’s soap. I heard that at old times, people made soap with any kind of grease they could put hands on, including animal inners. That smell, though, was so deeply entrenched in my mind, that I could never forget.
Today, more refined, using different additives, I get almost transparent light color hard bar soap smelling just clean.
I have just finished making two different kinds of soap. The first one, my endless experiement with tallow/vegetable oil ratio and new aditives, and the second kind, a liquid soap, which is nothing more than ethanol based soap diluted in boiling water before it hardened.
A few days ago, I experimented with olive, babassu, and soy oil in a superfatted toilette soap. It is still very gelatinous, but I expect it to harden somewhat.
My next experiment is with a small addition of tallow to olive and babassu oil, always using a formula given by Susan Cavitch on The Natural Soap Book. Her recipes are way too fancy, and I am unable to find all the different kind of oils, therefore, I don’t follow her recipes, but her formula. I am in search for a mild, hard bar of toilette soap.
I asked my father to pick some avocados for soap making. She brought back a crate with at least two dozens. I covered it with a sack and forgot about it, until I saw a kittie using it as a bed. When I checked on them, all the fruits were ripe. I kept them in the refrigerator over the weekend, and on Monday, I rushed to buy some tallow (yes, there is a butcher who sells it in a recycled 2-litter Coke bottle) using up the money I had saved for my daughter’s allowance. The recipe called for 5 Kg of avocado pulp, 0.5 Kg tallow, 400g sodium hydroxide, 150g of rosin and 3 TBSP cornmeal. Only after I had fineshed making the soap, I found out that I had used the same recipe before, but with half measures. The first time the soap didn’t really turned out fine, I even threw it away. At this time, I thought it to be very interesting, as became very consistent as soon as it saponified. I forgot about the insulation period and went ahead and cut it into bars. It has a caracteristic smell of avocado. In my test, it lathers. I hope it doesn’t get spongy like the last one.

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